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Photo of Ria Pell by Bo Shell / Photo illustration by Mike Ritter

Also inside: Tea Party, gay Republicans team up; New Year’s Eve events; and more

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2013YEAR IN REVIEW 12.20.13


PO Box 77401 | Atlanta, GA 30357 404-815-6941 |


Editor: Dyana Bagby

Art Director: Mike Ritter


Melissa Carter, Jim Farmer, Shannon Hames, Patrick Saunders, Steve Warren, Ryan Lee


Publisher: Tim Boyd

Managing Partner: Christina Cash Sales Manager: Marshall Graham Business Advisor: Lynn Pasqualetti Financial Firm of Record: HLM Financial Group


Person of the Year: Ria Pell left a large legacy in Atlanta and beyond


Tea Party: Ga.’s Tea Party seeks help with image problems — from gay Republicans


Top national news: DOMA, Prop 8 struck down in a historic year for LGBT equality


Top local news: Atlanta scores 100 in HRC index and other victories


Outspoken: Who said what and why and to whom in 2013?


Pop goes our culture: The best of Arts & Entertainment from 2013


Top books for 2013: Take a look at some of the best picks of the last year


Plan your New Year’s Eve: Ring in 2014 at one of these parties

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Calendar: Find out what’s doin’ on any day of the week

26 | Columnist Melissa Carter tackles odd holiday traditions 27 | NEW columnist Ryan Lee takes on Georgia’s apartheid




Person of the Year Ria Pell

‘There’s a big hole to fill now’ Pell’s legacy lives on in the beloved community she worked to create By DYANA BAGBY We have suffered a loss that for me is unfathomable. I have yet to fully comprehend the enormity of what this will mean going forward. I believe to understand fully what is gone from our lives, we have to understand where we are and what we and by proxy Ria was. We are Atlanta. — Prof. Jas M. Stacy, a eulogy for Ria Pell Ben Cheeves was at his bar, Mary’s in East Atlanta, decorating for Christmas when he heard about Ria Pell’s death. “A lot of people went to her house because we didn’t know where else to go,” he says. “We built a bonfire in her backyard. She loved to do that.” Pell died unexpectedly Nov. 24 and the news rocked the entire city of Atlanta and reverberations could be felt throughout the country where people who loved her flooded social media to share their memories, photos and seek comfort from others. “She just has a kind soul and spirit,” Cheeves says, still unfamiliar with past tense. Cheeves, who co-owns Mary’s, and Pell’s iconic Ria’s Bluebird as well as her former Sauced restaurant were places created to ensure there were safe spaces for the “queer misfits of Atlanta.” “She always wanted to queer the entire spectrum and make sure everyone was treated equally, not just the picture perfect ones who made the news,” Cheeves says. Pell was equally loved and feared, Cheeves says, wiping away tears. And if you knew her, you knew where you stood with her. “She meant so much to so many. There’s a big hole to be filled now and people are going to have to step it up.” For everything Atlanta gets wrong, its communities get right. From the tightly knit neighborhoods that slowly revitalize lost pockets of communities without the exclusion of long term original residents as a result of gentrification, to the small businesses willing to pioneer forgotten enclaves, there is strong magic in this city. There was strong magic in The Pell. Strong indeed.

Editor’s Note: We selected Ria Pell as our Person of the Year for what she has done not only for Atlanta’s LGBTQ communities, but for the entire city. She transformed the city’s culinary scene, she hung out with punk rockers and hated bureaucracy. She fought against skinheads who came to town to beat up gay people. She DJd numerous parties, and her love of music was legendary. But most of all, Pell loved and fought for all people who were marginalized from the mainstream and by doing so created a beloved community.

Cowboy took the stage at the Variety Playhouse on Dec. 13 at a tribute to her friend and a fundraiser for the Pell family and shared the story of her first meeting with the woman she credits with helping change her life. She was only 17, having moved out of her house and was couch surfing, directionless except wanting to skate, when the large woman in overalls approached her while she was trying to finesse a tail slide on the benches in the Little Five Points square. “What are you doing?” “I’m trying to nail this tail slide,” Cowboy answered. “No, really, what are you doing?” Pell asked again. Cowboy said again she was working on her tail slide. Pell shrugged and walked away, but returned 15 minutes later. “So, what’s your story?” Pell asked Cowboy this time. “Do you like girls?” “Yeah,” Cowboy responded. “Do you want to get laid?” Of course, said Cowboy. “You know what girls like?” “What?” “People with jobs,” Pell told her. And Pell helped this young, lost dyke get her first job delivering Chinese and Mexican food eight years ago and put her on a path to success. And to getting laid. Stories like this — where Pell took the time to help individuals — are common. As the “gay mayor” of Atlanta, Pell was the “benevolent dictator” who always was helping those in need but was never afraid to ask for help when she needed it. The night before she died, she was at a memorial and fundraiser she helped organize for another fallen friend, Donnie Reider, who worked with Pell on Atlanta’s alternative queer arts festival, Mondo Homo. Like she did for so many in need, she provided the food she became renowned for in Atlanta’s respected culinary scene and even went on a year ago to win $10,000 on the Food Network’s national competitive cooking show, “Chopped.” Her decision 13 years ago with co-owner Alex Stalicky to build Ria’s Bluebird in a burned out abandoned liquor store on Memorial Drive across the street from Oakland Cemetery allowed other restaurants and bars to move into a now thriving neighborhood. Pell’s pancakes were made famous by the New York Times and her kitchen skills were praised by local and national food critics, restaurateurs and those who loved good food and cocktails. She cooked for countless benefits and for people who were sick. She provided a service, many services, to the city she loved. “I met her when I got a job in my early 20s at the Bluebird,” says Georgia Perry. “I had a lot of personality flaws when I first started … and she helped me become an adult. She made me a better person. She was big on forgiveness, thank God. She was always quick with advice and always there with a hug.” Perry says she’s heartbroken and has a huge hole in her heart. “She was an icon in Atlanta, for all different people.” Pell didn’t just fit in with the city’s chefs or activists, but also the punks, the rednecks, the DJs, local musicians, vinyl album lovers — the diversity of people whose lives she touched is truly unique. For John Paul Martin, Pell filled a brotherly role. “She was someone different to everyone,” he says. “She filled so many roles for so many people — I was just fascinated by that. I remember she was cooking a beautiful dinner at her home for me and The Cramps were playing in the background. I mean, how cool is that?” Anne Barr, founder of the Decatur Women’s Sports League, never met Pell but when she learned her friends needed help to organize the long, long funeral procession, she stepped forward to assist. “When anyone in the community is fallen we need to gather as community to lift up those who are grieving and pull together,” she says. The overwhelming support and loyalty of Pell’s friends and family


makes Barr proud to be an Atlantan, she adds. This is a city varied in it’s people as any in the world. All cultures, races, creeds and backgrounds, nationalities and economic situations call this place home. It is where Ria made her impact. Her activism. Her heart. Her loves. It is a city rich with history, though we allow that history to be bulldozed daily, as the machine that desires the old to disappear is somehow too powerful to fight. And yet some history survives and remains to teach. To keep strong and sacred, that which has gone before. This is our Atlanta. Ria’s Atlanta. Kiki Carr met Pell at the Aurora Coffee shop more than a decade ago while she was driving in an RV filled with drag queens on the way from San Francisco to Dollywood. “My San Francisco friends said, ‘You’ve got to meet the mayor of Atlanta — she’s a big ol’ tattooed dyke, and she has coffee there every morning.’ And sure enough she was there — this big ol’ tattooed dyke. You couldn’t miss her. She helped us find places to stay and took us out drinking and to the Elmyr Christmas party,” Carr says. It was during a visit in New York when sparks flew and the two fell in love, later marrying each other in a punk rock wedding in Oakland Cemetery. Carr was in California last month helping her best friend start up a new organic chicken wing business when she got the call her Pell had died. She caught a red eye back to Atlanta and has been unable to stay at their home, where Pell was found by a friend. “The first couple weeks I was in a daze and I could try to keep the reality out as long as could, hold that door back. But the door’s kind of opening now,” Carr says. “I know what it’s like to be suicidal and I know what its like to be depressed and this does not feel like this at all. It’s so weird.

At times when I’ve been suicidal, you want the world to go away. And this feels really different — I feel like I want to hold onto as much of it as I can.” Carr was good friends with Pell’s partner, Karen Portaleo, and made sure the two rode together to the funeral, offering each other support. The support Carr has received from her friends and family has been immense and she counts herself very fortunate. “I have a fucking amazing community. I am so, so fortunate. I think of so many people, especially so many queers, who didn’t have this,” Carr says. Carr knows her wife lived large and was boisterous and made an impression on everyone she met. But she wants people to remember the soft, sensitive, artistic side of her more than anything. “I feel like everybody talks like she beat them up or stole their girlfriend and that she was this big tough character, which is true, but more than that she was a super sensitive, super artistic person — I think that’s the part I want remembered more,” she says tearfully, and with a big sigh. The stages of grief are unavoidable and Carr has been angry plenty of times at Pell. “I mean, who kicks it at 45? Nobody does that,” she says. But she also is writing down as many memories as possible, including the last time they were together when Pell visited Carr in California just weeks before she died. They took a “50s road trip” and stopped at a hippy nudist resort (“She hated hippies so that was a true testament of her love for me!” Carr says with a laugh), a mini petrified forest and a mini Old Faithful geyser. “We would fight and had this huge, difficult and strong relationship and big capital L love ... I said we were so lucky we have the big L, we can’t let that go, because so many don’t get that their whole lives,” Carr says. The last time they spoke, Pell was crying on the phone. She told Carr the adoption agency had found her daughter. The two had exchanged letters and were going to meet. They both cried tears of joy. Plans were to meet her daughter, now 24 and living with two moms, in the near future. The daughter called Ria’s Bluebird on Nov. 24 and asked for Pell. Pell’s cellphone was on the fritz, so her close friend left the restaurant to tell her about the call. That’s when she found Pell. “She was so happy. Everyone who talked to her that weekend said she was so happy,” Carr says. “I think my biggest fear is things will be normal, people will go along and do their shit. But it’s never going to be like that.” Tell the persons close, that you love them, that you treasure them and that life is better because of them. That is our Atlanta. That is your heart and mine. Our town and hearts broken. That is our love and community. That is our Ria. Our Ria forever. Now get some sleep you big jerk.








Tea Party asks gay Republicans for help with identity issues Conservative group wants to appeal to youth and student movements

ment comes from, and they’re radical, progressive Marxists. And I’m not. I support economic liberty and freedom and national defense policies that the well-funded national gay rights organizations specifically oppose.”


By PATRICK SAUNDERS On a cold, rainy Saturday inside a Victorian home in Marietta recently, several Tea Party groups were gathered to address a number of issues. One of which was an image problem. The specific image proving problematic was one commonly associated with the typical Tea Party member — an older, angry, bigoted white male. Some would call this more of a reality problem than an image problem. Organizers of the Third Annual Tea Party Conference were attempting to change that, with help from gay Republicans. It’s been regrouping time for the Tea Party. A quick rise and a successful election year in 2010 was followed by a rough 2012, in which they lost 12 of 16 Senate races and roughly onefifth of their House races, and Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin famously introduced the country to the term “legitimate rape.” Hence the inclusion of an afternoon session at the Tea Party Conference called the “Diversity Dialogue & Debate.” It featured feminist Libertarians, students for marijuana legalization, Tea Party environmentalists, conservative African-Americans, young Jewish conservatives and the aforementioned gay speakers — GOProud co-executive director Ross Hemminger and Bruce Carroll from conservative gay blog There were roughly 30-40 people in attendance, roughly 75 percent of which were white men. The ages ranged from late teens to late 70s, but the majority of the group looked to be barely in their 20s. This was the first year that journalists were allowed inside the conference, which in past years had been smaller scale and based on inviting a few select national leaders, according to event organizer and Tea Party Students chair Danny Oliver. “ “This year we decided it was important to get beyond that, because the Tea Party’s youth and student movement is small and that’s a big problem,” Oliver told GA Voice. Another problem was the logistical issues that tend to occur with Tea Party events. According to Oliver, the location of the conference wasn’t revealed until days beforehand due to fears of protesters, which per their contract would have caused the site owners to cancel the event.

Ross Hemminger, GOProud’s co-executive director, speaks to the annual Tea Party conference titled ‘Diversity Dialogue & Debate’ held Dec. 14 in Marietta, Ga. (Photo by Patrick Saunders)

‘THEY NEED TO HEAR SOME OF THE THINGS WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT’’s Bruce Carroll is a rare breed: a gay conservative who is against gay marriage. He cites concerns over religious liberties being jeopardized. “I think conservatives blew it a decade ago,” he tells GA Voice. “Republicans could have won the gay marriage issue if they had jumped on civil unions and tied it to strong religious protections similar to what I think New Hampshire settled on. But they blew it.” This was the first Tea Party event at which GOProud’s Ross Hemminger, 23, was invited to speak, and he didn’t hesitate to accept. “They need to hear some of things we’re going to talk about,” he told GA Voice before going in front of the group. “They need to know and understand that the majority of Americans support gay marriage, and this is a losing issue for them, and it’s a losing issue for Republicans.”


The crowd had thinned out significantly by the time Hemminger and Carroll went up to speak. After a brief introduction, Hemminger and Carroll opened up the floor for a Q&A. For a brief moment, it appeared like the Tea Party crowd was staring at aliens who had suddenly landed in their living room. But then the questions slowly began. Someone asked if either speaker works with the Log Cabin Republicans, who were invited to

the conference but could not make it, according to Oliver. Carroll, a GOProud co-founder, was critical of Log Cabin, claiming he discovered that Democratic organizations were funding the group in the early 2000’s. This led him to help form GOProud. Hemminger was uncomfortable with the close relationship between the Democratic party and another national organization. “One of the problems that I have with a lot of the national gay organizations like the Human Rights Campaign is that they become more like arms of the Democratic National Committee than they actually do about caring for the safety and security and future of the gay community,” he told the group. “They’re concerned with electing Democrats. Pretty much all of them [national gay organizations] are just Democratic activists.” The two speakers were quick to answer a question from the group about why they felt the need to segment themselves as gay Republicans. “Because I think that gay Republicans, and there are a lot of them, need representation,” Hemminger said. “My personal viewpoint is that as a conservative I believe in smaller government, and I don’t believe that the government in any state, or the federal government, has the right to come in and specifically ban same-sex marriages. I think it’s wrong on that viewpoint, it’s wrong on a moral viewpoint. It’s just wrong.” Carroll was more blunt. “The reason that I want to identify myself as a gay conservative is because I’m not an antiwar, flaming liberal communist progressive,” he said. “I’ve studied where the gay rights move-

Tea Party Conference organizers touted the event as “historical” in a press release, saying it “will mark a turning point in Tea Party history, when the next generation will rise up to clarify that bigotry is not a Tea Party value.” As to whether that reputation for bigotry is fair or not, it depended on who you asked. “I think that it is unfair statistically and demographically speaking,” event organizer Oliver said. “But I think it is very fair when there is a case of obvious bigotry that is answered only by apathy and silence.”’s Carroll thinks it’s an unfair reputation, at least based on his experiences speaking at Tea Party events. “I don’t know how that narrative has come about, but perception is reality.” Hemminger believes the reputation is deserved, mostly due to the candidates the Tea Party supports. “We [GOProud] want to win. That’s the point, that’s our job, is to make candidates win. And with candidates like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, we don’t win and we end up looking like morons. And that’s a problem, that’s a significant problem,” he says. “When your most public faces are people like that, that’s what you deserve for putting them forward,” Hemminger continues. Oliver looks forward to correcting the mistakes that led to the reputation. “People are responsible for building up that stereotype,” he says. “And the next generation of the Tea Party needs to be responsible for tearing that stereotype down.” But his elders in the Tea Party movement can’t seem to help getting in the way of ridding that image of bigotry within their ranks. During a GA Voice interview with Oliver, a conference attendee in his mid-50s ambled up to listen in. After Oliver answered a question about the Tea Party doing more outreach to the LGBT community, the man broke in. “What about us pedophiles? I mean, we’re talking about tolerance for everyone, right?” he said. Oliver became visibly uncomfortable and was quick to point out that the man was not affiliated with his group. The man said he was joking, but the comment hung there, the damage done.




A year for the history books!

Our picks for the top national and international stories of 2013 By WASHINGTON BLADE STAFF

some of them. Croatian voters on Dec. 1 approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Australia High Court on Dec. 11 ruled a law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country’s capital is unconstitutional.

It was perhaps the biggest year yet for the LGBT rights movement in the United States, as the Supreme Court made history by striking down Prop 8 and part of the Defense of Marriage Act. More states legalized marriage in its wake. Elsewhere in the world, the Catholic Church got a new pope who seemed to break with his predecessor over gay rights, among other issues. Here are our picks for the year’s top national and international stories. What do you think of our choices? What did we forget? Let us know at

3. Senate passes ENDA; House version stalls

1. Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, Prop 8 The U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of historic decisions against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 in a news event we have dubbed the story of the year. In a 5-4 decision, the court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, the 1996 Clinton-era law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In a separate 5-4 decision issued at the same time, the court ruled the proponents of Prop 8 couldn’t defend the initiative in court, allowing a district court ruling to stand that determined the 2008 amendment was unconstitutional. Writing for the majority in the decision against DOMA, U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy emphasized the harm the anti-gay law causes married same-sex couples. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” The DOMA lawsuit was brought by New York widow Edith Windsor as a result of having to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. Windsor became a symbol of the marriage equality movement and was named by Time magazine as its No. 3 pick for “Person of the Year” after her victory at the Supreme Court. The ruling against Prop 8 restored marriage equality to California. Thousands of same-sex couples — beginning with plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandra Stier, who were wed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris at San Fran-

Plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case raise their hands in victory with attorney David Boies and HRC President Chad Griffin (far right). (Photo by Michael Key/Washington Blade)

cisco City Hall — began to marry after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead weeks after the decision. Immediately after the ruling against DOMA, the Obama administration pledged to work toward implementing the decision to allow for the recognition of same-sex marriage by the federal government. Then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued guidance saying bi-national same-sex couples would be able to apply for marriage-based green cards to enable them to stay in the United States. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that spousal benefits, including health and pension benefits, would begin to flow to gay federal employees. Perhaps most significantly, the Internal Revenue Service announced it would recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for tax purposes — even if they file tax returns while living in a non-marriage equality state. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also announced that service members in same-sex marriages would be able to receive spousal benefits, including health, pension and housing benefits. Several national guards with state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage said they would be unable to process these benefits, but after a second edict from Hagel saying they must comply, each of those states fell in line. Within a few short months, the ruling against DOMA also helped accelerate the path toward marriage equality throughout individu-

al states. In Ohio, a federal judge recognized the marriage of a same-sex couple that married at BWI airport because one of the partners in the relationship was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Later, a New Jersey superior court ruled the state’s civil union law was insufficient — a decision the State Supreme Court let stand upon appeal from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who later the dropped the lawsuit.

2. States, countries extend marriage rights The movement for marriage rights for same-sex couples made significant advances in the U.S. and around the world in 2013. In addition to Maryland and Delaware, gays and lesbians began to legally marry in California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Minnesota and Hawaii. Illinois’s same-sex marriage law that Gov. Pat Quinn signed last month will take effect in June. New Zealand and Uruguay also extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in 2013. Brazil’s National Council of Justice in May nearly unanimously ruled that registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians in England and Wales on March 29 will begin to exchange vows after the British Parliament over the summer approved a same-sex marriage bill. An identical measure cleared its first hurdle in the Scottish Parliament last month. The legal process to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Mexico continued to gain ground in Baja California, Guanajuato, Jalisco and other states in 2013. A handful of gays and lesbians have exchanged vows in Colombia, but the country’s attorney general has challenged

For the first time in history, the U.S. Senate approved with bipartisan support this year a long sought piece of legislation that would bar employers from discriminating against or firing workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. By a vote of 64-32, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the Senate, marking the first time that either chamber of Congress has passed a version of the bill with protections for transgender workers. A total of 10 Republicans joined the entire Democratic caucus present in voting for the bill. Prior to the vote, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), ENDA’s chief sponsor, delivered a speech on the Senate floor recognizing the historic nature of the moment. “I look forward to this vote, this vote for liberty, this vote for freedom, this vote for opportunity, this vote for a fair and just America,” Merkley said. Despite a push to bring up the legislation in the House, momentum on ENDA seems to have stalled as the legislation has capped out at 201 sponsors and House Speaker John Boehner (ROhio) has continually said he opposes it. “I understand people have differing opinions on this issue, and I respect those opinions,” Boehner said in response to a question from the Washington Blade. “But as someone who’s worked in the employment law area for all my years in the State House and all my years here, I see no basis or no need for this legislation.”

4. Russia’s LGBT crackdown sparks outrage The Kremlin’s LGBT rights crackdown sparked widespread outrage this past year amid preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February. Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed a broadly worded bill into law that bans gay propaganda to minors. A second Russian President Vladimir statute that bans Putin (Official photo)

YEAR IN REVIEW foreign same-sex couples and any couple from a country in which gays and lesbians can marry from adopting Russian children took effect in July. LGBT rights groups and other organizations that receive funding from outside Russia could face a fine if they don’t register as a “foreign agent.” Playwright Harvey Fierstein is among those who have called for a boycott of the Sochi games in response to Russia’s LGBT rights crackdown. The International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee have also faced criticism from those who feel they have not done enough to publicly criticize the Kremlin over the gay propaganda law.

5. LGBT Catholics welcome Pope Francis LGBT Catholics in 2013 welcomed Pope Francis’ more moderate tone toward gays. The College of Cardinals on March 16 elected the former archbishop of Buenos Aires to succeed Pope Benedict XVI who abruptly resigned in February. The Argentine pontiff said during a September interview with an Italian Jesuit newspaper that the Roman Catholic church has grown “obsessed” with nuptials for gays and lesbians, abortion and contraception. These comments came roughly two months after he told reporters as he returned to Rome after a weeklong trip to Brazil that gays and lesbians should not be judged or marginalized. “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and is of good will, who am I to judge him?” said Francis in response to a question about gay priests. But the pontiff also criticized Dignity USA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke acknowledged Francis’ anti-LGBT statements after his election. She remains optimistic the new pontiff will welcome LGBT Catholics back into the church. “We find much to be hopeful about, particularly in the Pope’s firm desire that the church be a ‘home for all people,’ and his belief that God looks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with love rather than condemnation,” said Duddy-Burke in a September statement.

6. Trans protections recognized under Title IX The Obama administration made a historic ruling for transgender rights this year by applying existing law to protect students in school on the basis of their gender identity. The Departments of Education and Justice announced the resolution as a result of a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of a transgender student in California’s Arcadia Unified School District. The resolution requires the school district to treat the student as male in all respects and keep his transgender status private. NCLR Staff Attorney Asaf Orr commended the Obama administration for taking the step “to ensure that schools are safe and supportive environments where all students can thrive,

Activists march in the streets to support U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who came out as transgender after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. (Photo via

including transgender students.” The resolution represents a growing legal and administrative trend to interpret existing law — in this case, Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 — to ban discrimination against trans people. President Barack Obama In Atlanta in 2011, stirred LGBT passions by menVandy Beth Glenn tioning gays in his secondsuccessfully sued in term inaugural address as Georgia in federal well as noting the Stonewall court all the way to Riots. (Photo by Michael Key/ the 11th Circuit Court Washington Blade) of Appeals after she was fired from her job as a legislative editor at the Gold Dome when she announced she was transitioning from male to female. Prior to this year’s Arcadia Unified School District ruling,, the student was required to sleep in a cabin by himself on an overnight field trip instead of being allowed to room with his male peers. The school district also excluded the student from the boys’ restroom and locker room, insisting that he use the nurse’s office.

7. Obama references Stonewall in inaugural speech President Obama stirred passions in the LGBT community by making an unprecedented reference to LGBT rights during his second-term inaugural address and saying he believes gay people deserve equal treatment under the law. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said. The words marked the first time that any U.S. president mentioned gay rights during an inaugural address and sent shockwaves through the LGBT community. Also during the speech, Obama made a reference to the 1969 Stonewall riots, which

are considered the start of the modern LGBT rights movement. “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth,” Obama said.

8. Manning gets 35 years, comes out as trans One day after a military judge sentenced former U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, the 25-year-old soldier released a statement through her attorney coming out as transgender. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.” Manning’s dramatic announcement shifted the media focus from that of her conviction in an Army court martial proceeding of violating the U.S. Espionage Act for leaking an unprecedented amount of classified information to the issue of who transgender people are and whether they should be entitled to equal rights. Some transgender rights advocates said Manning’s case would hurt efforts to lift the military’s ban on transgender service members by casting transgender people in a negative light. Transgender activists Brynn Tannehill and Autumn Sandeen, who served in the military before transitioning, said they were especially troubled by arguments by Manning’s attorney that Manning’s struggle over her gender identity created stress that played some role in her decision to leak classified information. By Lou Chibbaro Jr., Chris Johnson and Michael Lavers




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Top local stories of 2013 By PATRICK SAUNDERS Controversies and victories again marked the movement for equality in Atlanta and Georgia. Here are some of the most memorable stories of the past year.

Branco Radulovacki are running and both support marriage equality. The Republican side however will be filled with extreme right wing and anti-gay candidates, including Rep. Paul Broun, Rep. Phil Gingrey and former secretary of state Karen Handel.

Cheshire Bridge rezoning proposal spurs community dialogue

Baton Bob arrested, threatens suit against city, angers fans

Gay Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan found himself in the battle of his young political life in spring 2013 as he spearheaded a rezoning of the Cheshire Bridge corridor. The ordinance, based on a 1999 vision statement, would have forced out several popular gayfriendly businesses in order to give the area a facelift and encourage new development. This proved to be a major point of contention for many in the LGBT community and spurred a months-long dialogue about the role of adult businesses in the fabric of gay life. A 2005 zoning change by the City Council halted any new adult businesses from opening in the area, as well as established new regulations regarding aesthetics such as landscaping and curb appeal. Businesses up and running at the time that would have been affected, including Inserection and Southern Nights, were grandfathered in. But under Wan’s proposal, the grandfathered-in non-conforming sex and porn shops would have had to be out by 2018. The Zoning Review Board, after hearing arguments for and against the legislation from a packed house of community members, voted against the legislation. But then in late May, it went to the Atlanta Zoning Committee, who voted in favor of the proposal by a 3-2 vote with one abstention. That left one final stop to decide the fate of the proposal: a Jun. 3 meeting before the full City Council. After one final plea by Wan, the council voted against the proposal by a vote of 9 to 6. The affected businesses will remain, and the longstanding effort to improve the Cheshire Bridge corridor continues.

Atlanta scores 100 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index Atlanta was the only city in the Deep South to receive a perfect score on the HRC’s 2013 MEI. The MEI takes into account the laws, policies and services of municipalities and rates them on inclusivity of LGBT people. HRC’s President Chad Griffin came to Atlanta Nov. 20 to personally reward Mayor Kasim Reed, the city’s LGBT liaison Robin Shahar and City Councilmember Alex Wan. Reed called the day one of the highlights of his career and Georgia Equality’s Jeff Gra-

Hundreds gathered at the corner of 10th and Piedmont on June 26 to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a major portion of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

ham also recounted a story of how 20 years ago he was at City Hall protesting then Mayor Maynard Jackson’s veto of the city’s domestic partner benefits and how times have changed now that he was at City Hall proclaiming its achievements toward LGBT equality.

Surprising City Council election results, big 2014 announcements It was a busy year in local politics, with several gay candidates involved in the November elections for Atlanta City Council, and big announcements for 2014 statewide runs. Mary Norwood, with a strong gay backing, returned to politics after her unsuccessful 2009 mayoral run, challenging gay-friendly incumbent Aaron Watson for the Post 2 AtLarge city council seat she once held. Norwood defeated Watson in a close race. Alex Wan shook off a tough loss in the fight to pass a Cheshire Bridge rezoning proposal earlier in the year and cruised easily to a win and a second term on the city council in District 6. In a close race and major upset, political newcomer Andre Dickens beat threeterm incumbent Lamar Willis for the Post 3 At-Large seat on the city council. Willis was mired in ethics complaints and disbarred for fraud, while Dickens picked up endorsements from Shirley Franklin, Cathy Woolard, Georgia Equality and Stonewall Democrats.

Charis Books & More was the target of anti-gay vandals after it held an Atlanta Pride reading event. This was the first time in the store’s 39 history it had been attacked in such a manner. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

In District 5, incumbent Natalyn Archibong emerged victorious after a controversial race. Archibong had sued two gay candidates, Matt Rinker and Christian Enterkin, for libel and slander. Gay incumbent Brian Bates lost his reelection bid for the Doraville City Council. He was believed to be the first openly gay Republican elected to office in Georgia. Democratic State Senator Jason Carter, grandson to former President Jimmy Carter, announced he would be taking on Gov. Nathan Deal in the 2014 governor’s race. Openly gay lawyer Kyle Williams then announced he would run for Carter’s state Senate seat. And the 2014 race to fill retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss seat is filled with candidates with wildly different views on the gay community. On the Democratic side, Michelle Nunn (daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn) and Dr.

Baton Bob, whose real name is Bob Jamerson, was performing on Jun. 26 in Colony Square dressed in a white tutu and white mask to celebrate the Supreme Court striking down DOMA. But the “Ambassador of Mirth’s” celebrating did not please two security guards on the job. A Midtown Blue officer was called, and a scuffle between the two ensued. Baton Bob was arrested and charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of obstruction of officers. Later that afternoon, a message appearing to be from Baton Bob was posted to his Facebook page explaining what happened and saying the Midtown Blue officer was very respectful. He was not released until the following day, Jun. 27. Baton Bob is now threatening a lawsuit against the city for violating his constitutional rights, and claims he was coerced by the police into writing the Facebook post saying how well he was treated after being arrested. He and his lawyer want the city to apologize and drop the charges, or face a civil suit. The performer’s credibility took a hit after he posted a hateful Facebook rant on the Fourth of July against a “white lesbian bitch.” The woman apparently confronted him after he turned down a request from a friend of hers earlier in the day to take a photo with him. He remained unapologetic about his behavior and choice of words.

Charis Books & More vandalized with anti-gay graffiti

Lesbian-owned Charis Books & More, one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the nation, was vandalized shortly after it held an Atlanta Pride reading event at its store in Little Five Points. The graffiti included an image of a penis, the words “Creep,” “Eat mor dick” and “Fuck dikes.” Staff and volunteers painted over the ugly words with primer and a community mural is planned to take up the entire side of the business.

Brushstrokes co-owner Schloeder sentenced to prison for possessing child porn The year started harmlessly enough for gay-owned adult entertainment store Brush-

Please see LOCAL on Page 14




Top local stories of ’13 Continued from LOCAL on Page 13

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strokes Pleasures, when they added an extra 500 feet of space. But by mid-July news broke that coowner Thomas Joseph Schloeder, 47, had been sentenced to eight years and one month in federal prison after being found guilty of possession of child pornography. Schloeder’s partner and coowner Mark Jackson defended Schloeder in an interview with Fenuxe Magazine, saying the pictures were sent to him anonymously, the “vast majority” of which were of Schloeder being molested as a child. Jackson claimed that the only thing his partner was guilty of was not notifying the authorities when he allegedly received the file of picAtlanta was the only city in the Deep South to receive the score of 100 on tures. the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index and celebrated with a press conference However, in a review of a tran- as well as cake and snacks at City Hall on Nov. 20. (Photo by Dyana Bagby) script from a July 10 federal sentencing hearing, there is no mention of Jackson’s claims. The prosecutor also popped up on a list of people appointed to a references a previous incarceration on a child working panel that would work toward reexploitation offense by Schloeder, notes that ducing prostitution in the city. Within days Schloeder admitted he had been collecting of the announcement, after concerns about child pornography since 2006, and that the his questionable leadership practices with images numbered in the “many, many hun- YouthPride came to light, McPhaul was redreds of thousands.” Schloeder also accepted moved from the panel. In late June, the group was evicted from his responsibility in the crime. Schloeder later issued a statement to their Ashview Heights location. This was the Fenuxe saying he had lied to Jackson about second time the organization had been evicthow he received the images, but did claim ed in less than a year. They then moved to he found images on a file sharing service of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center at the Athim being molested after being tipped off by a lanta University Center. By August, Fulton County was longtime friend who was also in demanding that YouthPride the images. reimburse nearly $19,000 Schloeder is currently of a $40,000 grant due to serving out his sentence failure to provide services. at low-security federal The county took legal accorrectional institute in tion against YouthPride, Ashland, Ky. He will be with the outcome pending. required to register as a The troubles continsex offender upon release, ued in late August when, and will be under supervised after a lengthy investigation release for the rest of his life. into the stability of the organization, By all accounts, Jackson was not aware of Schloeder’s criminal activities until national service program AmeriCorps VISTA the initial arrest in November. He continues dropped YouthPride and discontinued any future funding. to own and operate Brushstrokes. The year ended with a YouTube video of McPhaul singing a jingle promoting YouthPride’s “annual Mingle & Jingle” event Dec. 19 with the announcement of a new location for the group. YouthPride’s tumultuous 2012 carried over into 2013 with another year of controversy. It started in January when the LGBT youth Although it wasn’t a victory for Georgia, outreach organization filed a tax return that listed board members who were not involved hundreds of residents gathered at the corner with the group during the period covered by of 10th and Piedmont to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a major the return. Eyebrows were raised in March when portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Executive Director Terence McPhaul’s name ruling, of course, does not allow for same-sex

YouthPride troubles continue with eviction, lawsuits, lost grants

Atlanta celebrates DOMA decision marriages to begin in the Peach State, but did strike a blow against anti-gay policies across the nation.

Rush Center, Lost-N-Found Youth expansions In April, stakeholders of LGBT community center The Phillip Rush Center announced a six-month fundraising drive in order to pay for a 1,700 square foot extension to the home of the Health Initiative, Georgia Equality, Atlanta Pride, In The Life Atlanta, Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth, JustUs ATL and more. The center is named for the late LGBT activist Phillip Rush. The doors were opened to the public on Nov. 16 to show off the Rush Center’s new look, which included more office space and a new event space. Also as a result, AID Atlanta opened a new satellite office in the renovated space where HIV testing will be provided, space was created for full-time navigators to help LGBT and other community members navigate the Affordable Care Act, and the Jewish LGBT community organization SOJOURN moved in. Early in the year, Lost-N-Found Youth, an LGBT youth outreach organization, announced a $1 million capital campaign to help open a thrift shop and consignment store, drop-in center, and eventually a new housing space. After raising the necessary funds, and with an assist from gay city councilman Alex Wan with navigating the permit process, the 13,000 square foot thrift shop and consignment store was officially open for business in mid-November. The volunteer-led organization hopes the store raises $100,000 annually for the group. The space also serves as a drop-in center for youth who are not yet ready to come off the street, where they can be fed, take a shower, use a computer to search for jobs and more. The $1 million capital campaign continues, with plans to break ground on a new shelter space by the end of 2014.

Gay bars stamp out smoking This year brought a wind of change to gays bars that will not include a whiff of cigarette smoke, as many decided to change their smoking policies. The bars to alter their smoking policies included the Heretic, Jungle, My Sister’s Room, Mary’s and the Atlanta Eagle. Mixx and Cockpit were the trailblazers, going smoke-free indoors since the day they opened several years ago. After a renovation late last year, Jungle prohibited smoking on the dance floor, instead designating a small area alongside the wall by one of the bars for smokers. TEN Atlanta opened in January smoke-free except for their patio. Then the tidal wave started in March, when Heretic general manager Alan Collins, after much thought, announced that smoking would be limited to the pub area. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive, and Collins says they are considering banning smoking throughout the bar in

YEAR IN REVIEW the future. My Sister’s Room followed just a week later, specifying smoking in designated areas only on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. Mary’s put a partial ban in place later that month, prohibiting indoor smoking on weekends. The Atlanta Eagle was next up in April, as they announced smoking would be allowed on the decks only. Burkhart’s announced in May that they were going nosmoking indoors from then on. And while not a bar, the Starbucks at Ansley Mall, affectionately nicknamed the “Bearbucks” by many, announced in May that they were extending their smoking ban



to their outdoor seating area.

Ria Pell dead at 45

Quiet year for gay-friendly bills in Georgia General Assembly

The community was shocked as news spread of the Nov. 24 death of gay chef and owner of Ria’s Bluebird, Ria Pell. Pell was a beloved figure both in and outside the gay community, and gained national notoriety after winning $10,000 on the Food Network’s popular reality cooking show “Chopped.” She was also the cofounder of alternative queer art and music festival MondoHomo. More than 1,000 people attended her Nov. 30 memorial service. Please read our cover story on Ria Pell for a full tribute.

After high hopes of passing an LGBT employment protection bill, the only specifically LGBT bill to pass during this year’s 40day session of the Georgia General Assembly was a resolution honoring Atlanta Freedom Bands. Openly gay state Rep. Karla Drenner introduced the bill, and she told GA Voice it is the first resolution she has passed with the words “gay” or “LGBT” in them since taking office in 2001.





This year marked the good, the bad and the downright ugly in those speaking on LGBTQ topics. Here are some of the more memorable quotes from the past year.

‘Thea would be thrilled’

— Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, reacting to be named one of the Top 3 individuals for “Person of the Year.” (Joe.My.God, Dec. 11)

“There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life. My confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most-beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard.” — Jodie Foster during her Jan. 13 acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards (ABC News, Jan. 14)

Photo by

“The gay community is my ‘person of the year,’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies … Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.”


‘I wish I was gay!’


“Life is life and love is love, and I’m just trying to be a better me, you know what I’m saying?” —Rapper Snoop Lion, asked by paparazzi his stand on gay marriage. “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies,” he also said. (TMZ. com, April 7)

Photo via TMZ

“I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” — A tweet by actress Raven-Symone (who gained fame as a child on “The Cosby Show”), which she clarified afterward in a coming out statement: “I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however, am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to.” (Washington Times, Aug. 4)

“I was like, ‘Great! Bring on the gay jokes!’ because these aren’t insults at all. I don’t even care if people think I’m gay, so it was like, ‘Awesome!’ … I wish I was gay.” —Actor and director James Franco on gay jokes told about him at a recent roast (, Sept. 9; Photo by Angela George / CC 3.0)

“Fun fact: when you twitter me and say ‘you’re a lesbian’ it really doesn’t bother me at all. It’s a compliment. Most of my fav ppl are, so...” — Pink, responding via Twitter after someone criticized her on the social networking service for dancing with a rainbow flag during a recent concert in Sydney, Australia. (Huffington Post, Aug. 5)

‘Most of my fav ppl are (gay)’

Photo by Allisonnik / CC 2.0





“Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?”

sh s !’

— One of several scenarios included in a Boy Scouts of America survey sent to members and their parents as the BSA considers whether to relax its ban on gay Scouts, volunteers and leaders.

ese “If you take men and lock

them in a house for five m years and tell them to me!’ come up with two children, and they fail to do n gay that, then we will chop off (Thetheir heads.” ela



— Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, stating at a rally that homosexuality “seeks to destroy our lineage,” and Zimbabwe will not “accept the homosexuality practice” even if it costs the country U.S. aid. (News Day, July 25; Public domain )

Photo by Allisonnik / CC 2.0

ome- “When I think about the king folding in and the repeal of g ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and tralia.

the homosexual takeover of so much of our military I’m not sure how effective those naval ships will be.” — American Family Association radio host Sandy Rios, explaining why the U.S. military will not be prepared for a strike on Syria (Right Wing Watch, Sept. 3)



“As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is … incompatible with our Constitution.”


“Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself. It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.”

— Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker in a 1992 op-ed where he wrote about coming to terms with his negative feelings toward homosexuals. (Stanford Daily, Jan. 9)

— Former President Bill Clinton, in a column against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he signed in 1996.. (Washington Post, March 7; Official photo)

“Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner.” —President Barack Obama, including gay couples in his May 19 commencement speech at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black college (Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 19; Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

* *


“Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ as a way to put someone down ain’t ok!”

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. … If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

— NBA star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, responding via Twitter to someone using “you’re gay” as an insult. In 2011, Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling an NBA official a fag. (CBS Sports, Feb. 11)

—NBA veteran Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, the first athlete in a major U.S. men’s professional sport to come out during his career. (Sports Illustrated, released online April 29)


“... who am I to judge?” — Pope Francis, telling reporters that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. The former pope, Benedict XVI, had said gay men should not be priests. (New York Times, July 29; Photo courtesy



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Pop goes the culture in ATL and the world in 2013 LGBTQ representation visible everywhere Television in arts & entertainment | By JIM FARMER relationship swoons up and down like many first love relationships. Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and rightfully rated NC-17, this has become a fall arthouse success.

‘American Horror Story: Coven’

Now in its third season, this FX spook fest has TV’s deepest cast – Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy and out performers Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare and Leslie Jordan, among others. From gay director Ryan Murphy of “Glee” fame, “Coven” is set in New Orleans at a school where young witches are learning to protect themselves. Some argued that season two of “American Horror Story: Asylum” went too far but most seem to agree that the current season – continuing through January – is very much back on track including a special cameo by Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, often rumored to be a witch herself.


This documentary about Shane Bitney Crone and the loss of his partner Tom in a tragic accident – and the ensuing drama with Tom’s family as the funeral approached — was a film festival sensation (including Out On Film, where Crone appeared and the film won Best Overall Feature) before it landed a plum spot on Oprah’s OWN network in November and reached millions. Directed by Linda BloodworthThomason of “Designing Women” fame, “Bridegroom” is heartbreaking and empowering at the same time, as Shane learns that his ultimate gift to his late partner is to move on. Even Redbox warmed up to the film, placing it in all of his kiosks nationwide despite not normally carrying documentaries.

‘Behind the Candelabra’

In this Emmy Award-winning drama, Michael Douglas (in one of his best performances) starred as flamboyant entertainer Liberace and Matt Damon played Scott Thorson, one of the entertainer’s secret lovers/boytoys. With its gay content fully intact, film studios were afraid to touch this, so it wound up on a supportive HBO. Despite some campy moments (including some with Rob Lowe as Liberace’s plastic surgeon) director Steven Soderbergh never resorted to stereotypes, making Liberace and Scott full-blooded people and their relationship compelling and complex, before the singer eventually passed away from AIDS.

‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Above, this year’s installment of ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ includes the amazing cast of Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates. ( Publicity photo)

‘Sean Saves the World’

Jodie officially tells the world

Long rumored to be lesbian, Oscar winning actress Jodie Foster chose the 2013 Golden Globes to come out, sorta, in a rambling kind of way as she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The community was mixed in its reaction to the news and the way it was handled, but Foster finally did it. She was the highest profile performer to come out this year – and on live TV to boot.

Directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason of “Designing Women” fame, the documentary ‘Bridegroom’ about Shane Bitney Crone and the loss of his partner Tom in a tragic accident is heartbreaking and empowering at the same time. (via YouTube)

‘Modern Family’

‘Orange is the New Black’

Now in its fifth season on ABC, this sitcom is merrily rolling away. An Emmy winner – named Best Comedy four years running – “Modern Family” has never downplayed the relationship between Mitchell (openly gay Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted daughter. “Modern Family” may not be as fresh as it was when its run began but it’s still pretty daring, especially for network TV.

A cult hit almost upon its debut, this Netflix drama from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), who is sentenced to 15 years in a women’s federal prison for smuggling drugs for her former lover Alex (Laura Prepon). Highly addictive, the series features lesbian characters and a supporting cast with the likes of Natasha Lyonne, Jason Biggs and Lea DeLaria. An eagerly awaited second season is slated for next summer.

Out actor Sean Hayes, iconic from his “Will and Grace” days, stars in this NBC sitcom as a workaholic gay father whose 14 year old daughter moves in with him, forcing him to learn to juggle a career and being a dad. After virtually all of last year’s much-ballyhooed LGBT TV crop went south, it’s nice to see another stab here, but the verdict is still out on whether this comedy will see another year. The addition of Linda Lavin and Megan Hilty into the cast has at least upped its hip factor.


‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’

Acclaimed at its debut at the Cannes Film Festival – where it won the Palme d’Or and awards for its two lead actresses as well as wowed the jury, including Steven Spielberg - this lesbian love story, based on the 2010 novel, featured some of the most sexually explicit scenes in history in the tale of a 15 year old Adele (Adéle Exarchopoulos ) falling for an older, artist type (Léa Seydoux). Their

Matthew McConaughey lost 30 pounds to play the real life Ron Woodroof, the homophobic womanizing Texan who acquired HIV in the ‘80s. Expected to die within 30 days, he found a way to stay alive past then. After first taking AZT, the only legal AIDS drug at the time, and then smuggling in various medications from other countries, he founded the Dallas Buyers Club, giving alternative treatments to HIV/AIDS patients not satisfied with what their doctors and hospitals have available for them. As splendid as McConaughey is in the lead, he’s matched by Jared Leto, in the role of Rayon, a transgender woman/ AIDS patient dealing with a drug addiction who assists Ron. A Best Supporting Actor Oscar is Leto’s to lose.

‘Kill Your Darlings’

Daniel Radcliffe, forever shaking his “Harry Potter” image, starred convincingly as gay poet Allen Ginsberg in this independent Beat Generation drama, co-starring Dane DeHaan as his eventual lover Lucien Carr and Michael C. Hall as the doomed, murdered David Kammerer, an ex of Lucien’s. Director John Krokidas conveyed the time and era effectively and made “Darlings” a character study, love story and effective murder mystery. Of all the recent Beat Generation films,

Please see POP on Page 20




It's time to raise a Ruckus.

Johnny Drago (left) and Jacob York starred in this year’s hit ‘Angry Fags’ at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre written by prolific playwright Topher Payne. Payne won the Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award for ‘Angry Fags’ at this year’s Suzi Bass Awards. (Publicity photo)

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The year in pop culture Continued from POP on Page 19 such as “Howl” and “On the Road,” this made the largest impression.


In this fact-based film, Judi Dench is a simple Irish woman who dreams of locating the son she gave up 50 years ago when she was at a convent. With the help of a journalist (Steve Coogan) she seeks to find him. Their journey leads them to America, where they find that her son was gay – and a closeted Republican. Stephen Frears’ direction and Coogan’s script can seem Lifetime TV network ready at times but the dazzling Dench makes the trip memorable and melancholy. She’s a deserved Best Actress nominee lock.

Theater ‘Angry Fags’

One of two world premieres by the busy Topher Payne (alongside his “Swell Party” at Georgia Ensemble Theatre), “Angry Fags” spins on the revenge-taking two friends (Johnny Drago and Jacob York) take when one’s ex is beat up. Among others in its cast were Atlanta radio personality Melissa Carter, who was believable as a politician. “Fags” was funny and potent and a third act away from being a major piece of theater.

‘Choir Boy’

One of the year’s finest productions was the Alliance Theatre’s version of this Tarell Alvin McCraney drama, a joint collaboration with the Manhattan Theatre Club, where it opened in the summer to great acclaim. McCraney, who made noise with his exceptional “In the Red and Brown Water” at the Alliance

as well, has become a playwright of considerable skill and depth. The playwright won the McArthur Fellowship, also known as the Genius Grant, this year. Here, Pharus Young is a senior at an African-American prep school who leads his chorus. His effeminate mannerisms, however, don’t go over well with his classmates and administration at the school. “Choir Boy” was as well acted and directed as virtually any 2013 local production.

‘5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche’

The Weird Sisters Theater Project staged this comedy about five closeted women who have gathered for the annual Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein meeting, where a highlight of the day is the crowning of the best quiche. As the fear of an atomic bomb looms the women’s secrets spill out. The goodnatured “5 Lesbians” wasn’t as on-the-money as the company’s 2012 “Anton in Show Business,” but the all-female troupe’s willingness to tackle unorthodox material and talented company members makes them welcome entrants into the local theater community.


The year’s most joyous theatrical event was staged by gay director (and Serenbe Playhouse artistic director) Brian Clowdus, who made the ‘60s rock musical a rousing success. That Clowdus filled it with the sharpest musical ensemble of the year was an added treat. Even a good half-hour from metro Atlanta, “Hair” – staged appropriately in a field at Serenbe – was worth a second viewing, with the closing “Let the Sun Shine In” goosebump inducing. A 2014 encore – please!


It was the major theater production of the fall – a new take on the Barry Manilow/Bruce Sussman musical at the Alliance dealing

with the Comedian Harmonists, a boy band in Europe who became worldwide sensations in the ‘20s/’30s. As anti-Semitism grew and the Nazi party took over, though, the band eventually disbanded. Full of agreeable musical numbers, “Harmony” proved skimpy in character development for much of its characters, including half the band. Yet there was no denying that gay director Tony Speciale directed the heck out of it and made an unbalanced musical worth seeing.


Amy Ray does country

One half of the beloved local Indigo Girls – Amy Ray – released the first single, “Oyster and Pearl,” from her first country album, “Goodnight Tender,” due out in January.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ ‘Same Love’

idThe music duo’s “Same Love” was recently on nominated for a 2014 Grammy for Song of the the Year, along with six other nominations. ng is The song has become an anthem since its ool release last summer and its music video has n- been seen by more than 100 million people h his on YouTube. Macklemore and Lewis wrote hool. the song to support same-sex marriage; d as it was recorded during an event trying to

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recognize marriage equality in the state of Washington.

The music lineup at Atlanta Pride always seems to be loaded, but this year was especially high caliber. The headliner was pop star Taylor Dayne, who visited to sing some of her well-known hits such as “Tell It to My Heart.” Another artist present at Atlanta Pride was –

Two popular out performers denounce Russia’s anti-gay sentiment

Lesbian artist Melissa Etheridge unveiled her song “Uprising of Love” as part of a social movement supporting LGBT Russians, while Elton John spoke out against the anti-gay sentiment as well at a concert in Moscow in December, calling it “inhumane and isolating.” John dedicated his concert to a 23-yearold gay man who had been tortured and murdered in Russia.

Steve Grand

Tom Goss, Levi Kreis, Lorna, Brandy, Elton

Out musicians Levi Kreis and Tom Goss also made Atlanta appearances this year. Tony winner Kreis came to town as part of


John wowed a Philips Arena crowd. Gay faves Brandy and Lorna Luft also visited, Brandy for Black Gay Pride and Luft performing at Encore ‘13, a benefit for the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the newly formed Atlanta Women’s Chorus this fall.

Music at Atlanta Pride

Grand became the first male country singer to come out over the summer, launching his debut single “All American Boy” - about falling for a heterosexual friend - and an accompanying music video. A former model, Grand made a sizable splash this year. Time will tell where his career heads but hats off to his bravery, especially in an industry that can be unforgiving. Just ask the Dixie Chicks.


Beyonce pops a Christmas surprise

Brandy stopped by Piedmont Park over Labor Day Weekend for Black Gay Pride’s Pure Heat Community Festival to receive an award for her dedication to the LGBT community. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

his “Flying Solo” tour in April while acoustic singer-songwriter Goss visited in March as part of a benefit for the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Late this year Elton

The reigning Super Bowl halftime performer and Presidential Inauguration guest, gay icon/diva Beyonce, released a surprise 14-track “visual album” last week only on iTunes, to everyone’s astonishment and nearly breaking the internet, capping an amazing year. Her fifth album, titled “Beyonce,” features tracks with Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and more, including her daughter, Blue Ivy.




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Atlanta Freedom Bands presents “Holiday Spectacular!” For the first time, all performing ensembles will perform together on the same stage. WSB Radio’s Chris Chandler is the Master of Holiday Ceremonies. A dessert reception follows the show. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. 8-10 p.m., North Decatur Presbyterian Church,

SUNDAY, DEC. 22 Church’s Third Anniversary (It’s a Hell of a Party!) celebrates the milestone in the gay-friendly bar with holy sangria and toasts made by its personal Jesus, aka Sister Louisa aka Grant Henry.


Photo by Dyana Bagby

Harold Leaver is once again donning the elf suit as part of “The Santaland Diaries,” the annual (snarky) holiday show at Horizon Theatre, based on David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice,” with various dates and showtimes through Dec. 31,


The Third Friday Film Series presents the acclaimed documentary “Harvest of Empire,” directed by Peter Getzels & Eduardo Lopez and exposing the connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today, 7 – 10 p.m., First Existential Congregation, Dirty Santa will be present for photos at Mary’s annual XXX-Mess Party, also featuring DJ Diablo Rojo and plenty of naughty boys, as well as reindeer games at the Boozy Cougar with the Atlanta Radical Faeries, 10 p.m. – 3 a.m., Mary’s Atlanta, Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker” now at the Fox Theatre. Choreographed by John McFall, music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra. Runs through Dec. 29. Various times and prices. Libby’s at the Express presents “Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays and a Connie Sue Day Christmas!” It’s the annual celebration with Libby Whittemore who is joined this year by Connie Sue Day, “the 31st Lady of Country Music.” Through Dec. 22. Mr. and Ms. Atlanta Eagle Bar Night features Sir Alan reprising his role as Leather Santa.

Slip into your leather pants, step into your chaps and buckle up your harnesses – it’s Castro Leather Bar Night with guest DJ Nat at 10 p.m. at the Atlanta Eagle,

SOMETHING GAY EVERY DAY! Bookmark to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.

Get your photo taken with Leather Santa to raise funds for charities chosen by Twisted Toyland, 10 p.m.,


Solstice Sale! Celebrate the holidays with Charis Books and More with everything in the store at least 10 percent off. Free gift wrapping as well as hot cider and cookies. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., SAGE Atlanta hosts a Lesbian 50+ Potluck & Social, 6 p.m., Phillip Rush Center, The 12th annual Twisted Toyland Fetish Bazaar will donate proceeds to Lost-NFound Youth. The event features photos ops with Santa and erotic elves, Café Kink featuring chili and sweets, adult beverages at the bar, and door prizes and raffles all day long, 12 – 6 p.m., Jungle Atlanta,

My Sister’s Room hosts the MSR Toy Party, with special performances by Heather Daniels and friends. Doors open at 8 p.m. with no cover until 11 p.m. with unwrapped toys, all of which are donated to Toys for Tots, My Sister’s Room, Holiday XXX-travaganza with The East Point Possums to raise funds for Lost-NFound and featuring drag performances from the Possums including Suzanne Sugarbaby, Lori Divine, Barbie Q Sugarbaker and Shenitta Quit. 8-10 p.m. at East Point Corner Tavern. DJ Joe Gauthreaux throws down at the Heretic for its anniversary party and CHRIS Kids toy drive. $5 cover before 11 p.m., $10 after. Get your dance shoes on! Revolt Presents CIRCO: House and Techno, a night full of electronic dance music, with half a dozen different DJs, with the show beginning at 10:30 p.m., Jungle Atlanta,


Photo by Dyana Bagby






Guyton Maurice and pianist David Reeb help bring in 2014 at Cafe Vena at Vinings. Five course prixe menu and champagne toast afor $75. Seating begins at 7 p.m.


The infamous Ruby Redd and her bawdy social skills hosts Hott Talent Tuesdays at Burkhart’s, 11:30 p.m., www.burkharts.


See a movie with some of your hairy friends at the Movies with the Bears event gather to watch “Walking with Dinosaurs” in 3D at Movie Tavern at Northlake Mall, time TBD, Every Sunday enjoy the crazy sing-a-long of the Armorettes, the infamous camp drag queens of the South at Burkhart’s, 9 p.m.

rty, MONDAY, DEC. 23 niels Onstage Atlanta hosts a special “Up on the over Housetop” event for the family and children, ch arewith a special North Pole visitor, 7 p.m., Onstage m, Atlanta,


Several gay-owned restaurants are open Christmas Day for dinner and drinks. Visit om for details. by,

orner THURSDAY, DEC. 26 Join SAGE Atlanta on the day after Christmas for their 10 a.m. Coffee Hour, Phillip Rush Her- Center, ds Traxx Atlanta hosts Turnt Up Thursdays, hosted by MC Byrd, from 9 p.m. – 3 a.m., s It’s Dancefloor Divas with Phoenix every iffer- Thursday at Burkhart’s and starring Destiny, .m., Alissah, Envy and Evah. 11:30 p.m.,


Spend New Year’s Eve with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin and tunes such as “I Got Rhythm,” vocalist Judy McLane and pianist Michael Chertock, 8 p.m., Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,

Who can resist a wet underwear contest? Adam Bland and Ashley Mitchell host the Decadence event, with beats by DJ Daryl Cox, as well as dancers and drink specials, beginning at 11 p.m. with cash prizes for the winners, TEN Atlanta,

Party Like a Rockstar 8.0 is the yearly New Year’s Eve collaboration featuring International DJ/producer Manny Lehman. Proceeds from this night will benefit Joining Hearts. Doors open at 8 p.m., with $25 for regular admission and $45 for the VIP experience, Jungle Atlanta,

Kick off the starting of the weekend at Woof’s TGIF, beginning at 5 p.m.,

BJ Roosters hosts New Year’s Eve festivities at 8 p.m. with no cover,


DJ Eddie Baez and an opening set by Mike Pope highlight the Heretic’s New Year’s Eve Genesis bash. Angelica D’Paige does the New Year’s countdown. Admission is $10 and white attire is requested. Doors open at 9 p.m., Heretic Atlanta,

A special Backstreet Reunion takes place tonight, 10 years after the iconic location closed its doors. Come relive the memories and see friends you might have seen on the Backstreet dance floor, Jungle Atlanta,

TUESDAY, DEC. 31 See Sidebar at right.


Hip Hop Karaoke Wednesdays with DJ M and Twee. Hosted by Jack Daddy and Missy. Over 20,000 songs to choose from. Drink specials all night. Doors open at 8 p.m. My Sisters Room, Adult performer Charlie Harding hosts his Hard Bodies Party event at Blake’s tonight,


Michelle Malone plays a special New Year’s Eve party at Eddie’s Attic tonight, 9:30 p.m., Girls in the Night hosts a series of NYE parties for women in three separate ballrooms — Heaven, Paradise and The Garden — at the Westin Atlanta Airport, 9 p.m. The fourth annual Glitter and Fur New Year’s Party is one of the evening’s premiere events, with hosts such as Mariah Balenciaga, Kryean Kalley, Barry Brandon and DJ King Atlas from the Haus of Glitz. Season Two of “Sing For Your Life” will also be announced. 9 p.m. – 3 a.m., Takorea,

Traxx Girls with Blue Diamond Entertainment, Echilds Night Life and Twee Presents host the Red Carpet Affair VIII. Hosted by Cadillac Redd and Jersey Moulin. Complimentary cocktail toast at midnight. Doors open at 10 p.m. at 595 North near the corner of Northside Drive and North Avenue. The Masquerade Ball is tonight at My Sister’s Room, with the best mask winning a $50 bar tab. Featuring the Lee family at 10:30 p.m, as well as DJ Liz Owen, champagne toast and breakfast buffet, Swinging Richards hosts a New Year’s party unlike any other in town. A $55 charge gets you free entrance, an open bar all night, free 15 minute VIP rooms, a free champagne toast at midnight, giveaways and the hottest men in the country, all literally before your eyes, Swinging Richards, The Atlanta Eagle hosts a busy New Year’s Eve night, with DJ Pat Scott at 10 p.m., as well as karaoke with Mikey, Robby and Jack, and a traditional New Year’s event with champage at midnight, with no cover, Atlanta Eagle, 10th & Piedmont is the location of the Swank New Year’s party, with DJ Prism, lots of women and a champagne toast, $10 before 11 p.m. and $20 after, Shawna Brooks and Destiny Brooks hosts the Divas Cabaret show/New Year’s event with free champagne at midnight, LeBuzz, Charlie Brown hosts the Masquerade Ball at Lips Atlanta, with drag performances, dancing, a three course dinner and a champagne toast, Lips Atlanta, from $35 to $75,

BEST BETS 12.20.13



PFLAG hosts the Parents of gender variant/trans children support group meeting today from 2 – 4 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and The Atlanta Eagle bring you Jockstrap Sister Twister, featuring fun and all sorts of intertwined body parts, raising money for the Sisters grant program, 9 – 11 p.m., Atlanta Eagle,


The PFLAG Atlanta support group meets tonight on Monday in Atlanta, 7:30 – 9 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta,



Charis Books hosts “Braving the Fire and Writing the Tough Stuff,” a craft class on difficult memoir strategies with Jessica Handler, author of “Invisible Sisters: A Memoir” and “Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss.” This is a From Margin to Center Literary Event focusing on personal difficulty, such as loss, grief and trauma. The suggested donation is $5. 7:30 – 9:30 p.m., “Sing For Your Life” kicks off its second season with an all new Top 12 of live music talent, beginning at 9 p.m., Jungle Atlanta,

Bookmark to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.


Topher Payne’s new play “The Only Light in Reno” featuring Rachel Sorsa as Marilyn Monroe bows at Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell, 8 p.m.,

Photo by R Todd Fleeman



Books that seized imaginations in ’13 Catch up on these good reads while heading into the New year

Photo by R Todd Fleeman


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By TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Reading. Who has time? Who can take hours and hours to actually read a book, especially if it’s not all that good? Here are the books I loved best that you shouldn’t miss.

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At the top of my list, “Pilgrim’s Progress” by Tom Kizzia starts out with a semi-confusing (but heart-poundingly brilliant) escape by two young women. You’re not sure who they’re running from, or why – but you find out soon enough that their father has sent them scurrying. You’ll also find out how one man set an Alaska community on edge and what happened to him and his very large family. The ending of this book comes all too soon and it’s truly every bit as stellar as its beginning; I read it more than six months ago, and I’m still in awe… Like many people, I kind of went on a JFK-assassination streak of reading this year. There were certainly a lot of books out on the subject, but “ Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis was my favorite. But that’s not why this book is on this list. It’s here because it answers the question, “Why Dallas?” and in answering, it gives readers a good sense of the time and the country’s attitudes. We’re transported back 50 years in the telling of this story politically, socially, morally, and beyond. It’s one of those books you could read, and then turn around and read again. It’s easy to think that “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup is a novel. It’s easy to forget that you’re reading words from a man who lived some 150 years ago, that he really was sold into slavery, didn’t see his family for more than a decade, endured life as a wrongly-held man. It’s easy to think it’s all fiction — until Northup’s words not-so-gently remind you that this book is truth. That shook me up many times, and whether or not you’ve seen the movie, this is a don’t-miss book. Adding “The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell” by William Klaber to this list is kind of cheating. That’s because this book is fictional, but is based closely on the true story of a woman who lived as a man in the 1850s. That was scandalous, to be sure — but what was even more scandalous to the pioneers that knew her was that she was able to sur-


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vive a splashy court case and later, successfully married another woman. Written as a series of diary entries, this book includes action, adventure, jaw-dropping events, history that’ll blow your mind, and I loved it.


I loved the premise of “Astray” by Emma Donoghue: take an object from the past, a picture, or an article of clothing and imagine what life was like for the owner of that object. This book is a series of short stories with that in mind, all of them evoking a quiet corner of existence on the periphery of the world. Some of the stories are shocking. Some are warm. Others will make you think, but you’ll like them all. You will probably never see “Bait” by J. Kent Messum on any other list, and that’s too bad. This story of a group of drug addicted castaways on a sandy island will keep you turning the pages to the end, absolutely needing to find out what happens to them and why they wake up, craving heroin, on a saltwater beach. I don’t dare tell you any more. Just go read the book. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman is one of those dark, dark fairy tales of which Gaiman is so famous. It’s a novel of a man who somehow gets lost on his way home from a funeral, and he ends up on a side road near where he grew up. He starts to remember the little neighbor girl who promised to keep him safe forever. But, of course, she couldn’t. This is a misty kind of novel with just the right amount of creeposity. I can’t imagine not reading it.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients. Ameriprise Financial cannot guarantee future financial results. © 2013 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.





THAT'S WHAT S SHE SAID Bad holiday habits Christmas traditions bring out bizarre behaviors

I’m not a big fan of Elf on a Shelf. Even though it originated in Marietta, Ga., and I should be proud a local woman created a new Christmas tradition with her mom, I just think it’s creepy. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, their website describes the Elf on the Shelf as “a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists.” Basically you buy the doll, give it a name, and he “flies” to the North Pole every night to tell Santa what you did. And there are rules. The elf can’t be touched and an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake. His job, to watch and listen. Sounds like he works for the NSA. All over the world there are customs that we as Americans would think bizarre, and one was even influenced by an American company. Since poultry is rare in Japan, there’s a new custom in the Asian nation of ordering chicken from the fast food chain KFC. That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC began advertising its chicken as an important part of the Japanese holiday season several decades ago and now that country has embraced the fried delicacy at Christmas. Customers reserve their buckets months in advance, and those who put off buying their’s until Christmas Eve have to wait in lines that can last for blocks outside the restaurant. An offensive one in the Netherlands is Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter. He is Santa’s slave who abducts children that misbehave, taking them back to Spain. Apparently that it where Santa and Peter spend their off-season. Who knew? The Dutch even dress up as Black Peter, along with black face and Afro wigs, to accompany Santa. After being criticized for being racially insensitive Peter’s backstory changed, saying his blackface is merely the result of chimney soot. That still doesn’t explain the Afro.

Melissa Carter is currently one of the Morning Show hosts on B98.5. In addition, she is a writer for Huffington Post. She is recognized as one of the first out radio personalities in Atlanta and one of only a few in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter

Th has l forest that d Th riage There’s an old midwinter custom in Walesfense called Mari Lwyd, which means “gray mare,”ruling and is currently made of a horse’s skull attachedica’s to a pole. The tradition involves the arrival of therines horse and its party at a pub, where they sing No several introductory verses. Then people insidelegall and the party outside exchange challenges andGeorg insults in rhyme. At the end of the “battle,” thepassi outside party enters with another song. A festiverecog 2004. kind of bar fight. In Sweden residents build a gigantic Yule goatAmer in the town square of Gävle. Every year arsonistssachu burn the 42 foot hay structure to the ground. Thistangi year officials are hopeful the giant goat will lastit is o until Christmas, since they soaked the animal in Th numb anti-flammable liquid. The children of Barcelona are taught an oddlearn song, that they sing to painted logs. The kids takework care of, and then beat, a Tio de Nadal log whiletheir asking it to poop them presents. These joyful in-the st nocent young ones sing this song to the chunksalread of wood: “S**t log, s**t nougats, hazelnuts and Bu cottage cheese, if you don’t s**t well, I’ll hit youbeen with a stick, s**t log!” I can’t make this stuff up. traum But by far the scariest tradition comes out ofno m Austria. The Christmas season starts there onmarr Dec. 5 with Krampusnacht Krampus, St. Nick’swith demonic polar opposite. This goat-horned devilfirst c shakes rusty chains and sticks at passing chil-closed dren. According to the legend, naughty kids areaudib snatched by Krampus and dragged to his moun- “P tain lair. I guess that irritating elf doesn’t soundnow filing so bad after all. I think I’ll just stick with the traditions I grewmust up with. Because there’s nothing odd aboutsingle erecting a live tree in my living room, or having Th a fat man, thousands of miles from his home,comp coming down my chimney to bring gifts, and allseal o he wants from me in the middle of the night is ahomo of Rev cookie or two. Duh.





SOMETIMES 'Y' State of Apartheid Marriage equality successes create two Georgias, two Americas

The story of same-sex marriage in Georgia has long resembled a falling tree in an empty forest. If a wrong is committed against an entity that doesn’t exist, has any injustice occurred? The state’s formal prohibition of gay marriage started six months before the federal Defense of Marriage Act, both pre-dating the 1996 ruling by a Hawaiian court that served as America’s introduction to the idea of two bride figurines atop a wedding cake. Not a single gay or lesbian couple had been legally married in the United States when Georgia legislators amplified their bigotry by passing a constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex relationships in April 2004. “Gay marriage” was an abstract concept in America until such unions became valid in Massachusetts in May 2004, and it’s retained its intangible aura in Georgia and other states where it is outlawed. This philosophical nature of gay marriage numbed a bit of the indignity of waking up and learning that 76 percent of your neighbors, coworkers and fellow Georgians had enshrined their antipathy for you and/or your lifestyle into the state’s constitution. At least we lost what we already didn’t have. But the benign prejudice that has always been expected and accepted in Georgia inflicted trauma upon LGBT residents in 1996 and 2004, no matter how imaginary or distant same-sex marriage felt — and remains. A decade later, with DOMA exposed as unconstitutional and the first circle of the marriage equality movement closed in Hawaii, that injustice is increasingly audible. “PERSONS IN A SAME-SEX marriage who can now file a Federal [tax] return using married filing jointly or married filing separately status must continue to file Georgia returns using the single filing status.” The tax policy is one of the first of what will be many edicts that bring to life a prohibition that had been comfortably buried in a state constitution that few Georgia residents, gay or straight, have ever read or contemplated. Dis-

Ryan Lee is an Atlanta writer.

crimination that has been tolerated because it seemed theoretical is now creating hierarchies of citizenship in Georgia, where some gay and lesbian relationships enjoy parity with goldstandard heterosexuals on the federal level, but none have equality at home. Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA this summer, I was at a seminar with legal professionals and someone predicted a domestic landscape that is similar to U.S. military posts in foreign countries with regressive policies toward women. The hypothetical of married gay soldiers being full citizens while on base, then bound by local customs and restrictions when off-premises, is a legal reality in the Peach State now that Georgia is fully compliant with Department of Defense’s post-DOMA policies. This year’s advancements of the marriage equality frontline have drawn two Georgias, and two Americas. The everyday expression of most LGBT Georgians is not as dire as the codified intolerance suggests, and so it is risky to note similarities with broader forms of state-sanctioned inequality. However, when I read the Georgia Department of Revenue’s “Informational Bulletin IT2013-10-25,” I hear legislative echoes of Jim Crow and apartheid. Nelson Mandela’s suffering and perseverance were incomparable, as remains the breadth of racial discrimination in our own country. In conquering inhumanity, Mandela freed himself and his country, and offered hope and fellowship to those who are oppressed physically, politically and spiritually. As the world mourns the greatest liberator of our time, there can be false comfort in the distance since apartheid’s demise. Many folks assume that they would never participate in such a scheme, convinced that they would rebel against a government for the people, by the people telling a group that they are less equal than their neighbors. That’s a very American pretense. Ain’t no pretense in Georgia. We put out bulletins to make sure everybody know our homos are secondclass.

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The Georgia Voice - 12/20/13, Vol. 4 Issue 21  
The Georgia Voice - 12/20/13, Vol. 4 Issue 21  

Our annual Year in Review issue looks back on the local, national and entertainment news of 2013 and remembers the life of our Person of the...